The air crackled with a chill that September afternoon, the first trace of damp etched into the atmosphere.
Emma saw her first, then the rest of the children turned towards the woods at the edge of the park. Like an apparition, the woman stumbled out from amongst the trees and undergrowth resplendent in her cerise woollen coat. A coat peppered with a menagerie of coloured notes, all pinned on at angles.
Her mutterings at first were only audible to the sparrows in the trees, to the skittish robin, to the strident magpies marching across the tired grass. The ground was churned up by football boots, dried into uneven lumps of decay.
‘Where is it, where is it?’ she mumbled gruffly. Erratically the woman spun around, her eyes cast down eagerly on the ground, with a keenness of a child looking out for Father Christmas. Her eyes bristled with expectation, joy then with a sudden turn, angry filthy swear words spewed across the park.
Appalled Emma careered backwards, right into her friends and the cascade of children toppled like dominos, silent in shock. Righting themselves, the disheveled group at first failed to notice the approach of the woman; concern engraved on her face, bewilderment fluttering in her eyes.
‘Have you seen it? My child?’
Agog, they barely listened, their attention held fast on the woman’s coat and the pinned notes.
I’m sorry. Appeared many times. I’m lost. Please help. My name is Emma.
‘Please help me,’ she said. ‘I must find it.’
The children fanned out across the park, not sure what they were searching for, occasionally shouting out a find to Emma the older. Emma their friend remained with her namesake. Ahead of them a note tossed like an autumn leaf across the terrain, swirling in the strengthening breeze.
‘Stop it!’ shouted the woman. ‘There it is!’
Emma dashed over, picked up the dusty note, glancing at the elegant handwriting.
Mum, you’re lost. Not I. Come home. Address is on the back. Love, Mark xx
Emma the child handed over the piece of paper.
‘Mark! I found Mark!’ The woman’s primeval screech of elation echoed into the billowing dusk; a joy swallowed by her very next words, tiny as pinpricks, thin as slivers of silk.
‘Who am I?’
© Annika Perry, May 2018
The above piece of writing was inspired by a prompt from my writing group for our work to be ‘set in a park, in any period, in any location with any number of people involved, you or your character/s have lost or found something.’ Owing to burgeoning numbers of keen writers in the group our homework is now restricted in length.